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Agriculture Officials in Thyolo told to Supply Banana Suckers

Community leaders in Thekerani - Thyolo have asked the government to supply clean banana suckers to restore the banana farming which was hit by the diseases some three decades ago.

Group village headman Ndaona and Ward councilor of the area Petro Bomani, have told Zodiak that smallholder farmers are ready to uproot the affected plantains to bring back the lost glory of banana which were preserving soil, source of nutrition and income.

They believe this would bring back the lost glory of banana which were preserving soil, source of nutrition and income.

"At first, banana was really helping us...I was loading the whole lorry with banana myself from the farm. But all were wiped out before expected. What we planted earlier, they are there but not enough. We are not yet there because many have not planted. Government should help us where we can get the suckers.

"With banana we could pay school fees for our children and also help our health," GVH Ndaona said.

Over the years, efforts to revive the banana farming have been faced with resistance from some farmers to uproot the affected variety due to inadequate supply of clean suckers by the agriculture authorities.

Thyolo district used to be a home of banana, but were wiped away by a virus popularly known as ‘Chisaka’ in early 2000s which dwindled the economic status of most farmers who relied on the farming.

Meanwhile, Thyolo District Chief Agriculture Officer Miriam Ndlovu, has told Zodiak that through ASWAP and KULIMA projects, the district has managed to replant around 500 hectares of banana in six Extension Planning Areas (EPAs).

Ndlovu said they are trying to supply the farmers with the clean banana suckers, but the main challenge remains the high demand at the Bvumbwe Research Station.

"The demand is high, so Bvumbwe alone cannot satisfy our demand. So we also get suckers from other multipliers in Lilongwe. And through government, we will have chambers where our farmers have been trained to propagate so that we can increase the availability of the clean suckers", Ndlovu said.

Currently, Malawi is relying on banana imported from Mozambique and Tanzania.

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